Dear Abby:

I am 15 and in tears as I write this. My parents met in college and married when Mom got pregnant with my older brother. They recently celebrated their 17th anniversary. Lately, it seems all Mom and Dad do is argue. My father's job requires him to work long hours and travel a lot, so things have been especially stressful.

Last weekend, my brother and I went to visit our aunt and uncle who live a couple of hours away. While I was sitting at their computer e-mailing some friends, I couldn't resist the temptation, so I pulled up an e-mail Mother had sent to my aunt. In it, Mom wrote that she "can't take it any longer" and finally talked to a divorce lawyer. She plans to file for divorce as soon as my brother graduates from high school.

She doesn't want us kids to know because my brother needs to keep his grades up so he can get into a good college, and she knows the news would upset us.

But that wasn't the worst part. Mom went on to say she had confessed to our priest that she's been having an affair with a co-worker! Mom reads your column every day, so please give us some good advice.

If she reads this letter and your reply, maybe it would help her reconsider what she's doing.

Hoping to Save My Parents' Marriage

in Georgia

If this scenario seems strangely familiar to you, please know that your plans are no longer a secret and are causing great stress to your daughter.

Before you make any life-altering decisions, end the affair and start marriage counseling with your husband. It wouldn't hurt to begin family counseling as well.

Dear Abby:

"Allison," the daughter of a longtime friend, is being married in grand fashion this summer. Another friend and I planned to give her a kitchen and tool shower in the spring. The other day, Allison called and told me she didn't think the theme we chose would "net" her the caliber of gifts she wants. Then she had the nerve to tell me to change the theme to a crystal, silver and china shower.

My friend and I are hurt that Allison doesn't consider our party plan to be good enough. We don't want to alienate Allison or her family, but we also think she needs to learn a lesson about being a gracious recipient. The invitations announcing the original theme have already been printed. We would like your objective opinion about what to do.

Miffed in the Midwest

Inform the bride-to-be that the invitations have already been printed and it's too late to change the theme. This doesn't mean you're throwing cold water on Allison's wish to receive "high-caliber" gifts.

It simply means another friend, aunt or cousin will have the honor of hosting an additional shower with a theme of Allison's choosing.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.

(c)2003, Universal Press Syndicate